Refund people who got high power bills in Mumbai, MERC tells Adani Electricity
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Refund people who got high power bills in Mumbai, MERC tells Adani Electricity

The state’s electricity regulator, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), asked Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd (AEML) to refund consumers who had complained of a sudden rise in their power bills over the past month.

mumbai Updated: Dec 08, 2018 00:33 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai news,Electricity bills
(Hindustan Times)

The state’s electricity regulator, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), asked Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd (AEML) to refund consumers who had complained of a sudden rise in their power bills over the past month. The regulator has also set-up a two-member fact-finding committee to find out why the bills were inflated.

AEML has been asked to refund the excess amount with an interest of 9% in the next billing cycle. “The commission, prima facie, feels the increase in billed consumption for October 2018 appears to be unduly high this year. It would need a more detailed inquiry to verify the explanation given by AEML,” MERC said.

The panel, of Ajit Kumar Jain, state chief information commissioner, and Vijay Sonawane, a former MERC member, is expected to suggest corrective steps to ensure bills do not rise again.

MERC said the panel will take around three months to submit its report.

“Until then, MERC has directed AEML to verify the meters of consumers who have been billed significantly higher and organise camps to address grievances,” MERC chairman, Anand Kulkarni, said.

“MERC will also overlook the billing process between December 10 and January 10, to ensure the amounts do not rise over tariff revision,” Kulkarni said.

In its mid-term review power prices, the regulator had approved an average tariff rise for the financial year 2018-19 of around 0.24%.

This came into effect from September 1, 2018.

“This could go up to a maximum of 3% to 4%, but there have been complaints of an over 20% rise,” Kulkarni said.

AEML told MERC that 1.10 lakh residential consumers of its 27 lakh consumers got bills with a 20% increase in the amount on an average. It said there was an overall rise in electricity units by 15% in October 2018 owing to high humidity levels. Further, past dues of fuel adjustment charges were also recovered in the bills, AEML said. A strike by billing employees between August 27 and September 1 led to 3.53 lakh bills being issued on an average consumption basis.

An AEML spokesperson said the company “welcomes the press statement from the Hon’ble MERC”. The spokesperson said metered consumption was higher from September to October 2018, and that there was a similar pattern in the previous year (2017) too.

AEML said it was “completely open and transparent to the fact-finding committee”. “We will continue to respond to all our customers that have any query on billing issues,” the spokesperson said.

The MERC chairman, Kulkarni, said the facti-finding committee was open to study the profiles of other power distributors in Mumbai, such as Tata Power, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking, if need be.

AEML’s distribution region includes all areas from Bandra to Bhayander, Chunabhatti to Mankhurd, Vikhroli and Powai.

First Published: Dec 08, 2018 00:33 IST